Place the cider and syrup in a wide pot and boil on high until reduce by 2/3 to 1 c. Remover from heat, whisk in butter, and set aside.
MAPLE NUT GANACHE:
6. T. maple syrup
1/4 c. sugar
3 extra large egg yolks
2 T. butter
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. chopped pecans
In a double boiler over simmering water whisk together all the ingredients except the chopped pecans. Continue to gently whisk until the mixture is thick and hot, about 12 minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the sharp blade place the chopped pecans and chop until they're finely ground. With the blade running, slowly pour in the hot syrup/cream sauce and process briefly to incorporate well.
Scrape the ganache into a bowl.
MAPLE APPLE CLAFOUTI
3 tart apples
4 extra large eggs
3 T. butter + extra for buttering the ramekins
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 T. cognac
1 t. maple extract/flavoring
Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/2" wedges. In a large bowl toss the slices with the sugar, and let sit for 2-3 minutes so the sugar softens and makes a wet clingy covering on the slices.
Heat 2 T. butter in a large sauté until sizzling. add the slices in a single layer and cook over medium-high heat until the first side is browned. Carefully flip over and brown the second slice. Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining 1 T. butter.
In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, sugar, salt until frothy. With the mixer on low, slowly incorporate the flour until well mixed. Stir in the cognac and maple flavor.
Butter well 6-8 individual serving size, oven proof ramekins. Evenly divide the batter among the ramekins and then distribute the apple slices on top of the batter, lining them up in an overlapping pattern.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 375º oven. Bake until puffed up and brown, 25 minutes.
While the clafoutis bake, carefully reheat the maple cider sauce.
When the clafoutis are puffed up over the rims of the ramekins (they will look like apple-crowned popovers) remove from oven, loosen the clafoutis from the sides of the ramekins with a knife or metal spatula. Place each clafouti on a serving plate. Spoon or pipe the maple ganache on top — a circle around the top edge is nice so the glazed apples are shining in the middle. Spoon the hot maple cider sauce around the clafouti on the plate.
Some thoughts: If you want to keep things simple, you could just make the clafoutis and serve in the ramekins piping hot. A dusting of powered sugar is in order, and some whipped cream or small ball of vanilla ice cream would make everyone just that much happier.
You may unmold the clafoutis and let rest until ready to serve. They are delicious room temperature too, though you will loose some of the volume as the hot air is released and they deflate a little. Nothing to fret about. The ganache is fine at room temperature but do reheat the maple cider sauce.
If you're feeling slovenly or haven't a double boiler begging to be used, you could omit the ganache and just do the clafoutis and maple-cider sauce.
It's your call.
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